For B2B marketers, research indicates social media is more effective for increasing awareness and helping to narrow product selection than in closing the sale. This information is important for marketing managers to know so they understand when and how to use social media as part of marketing/sales strategy, and what results to expect.
Keep in mind there are five stages to the buying process that apply to B2B and B2C products:
- Recognition of a want or need:
- Search for information about what is available;
- Evaluation of viable options;
- Purchase; and,
- Purchase anxiety.
A MarketingSherpa survey among nearly 1,900 business managers found social media is most effective during the initial stages of the buying process, influencing brand reputation (39 percent very effective), increasing brand awareness (37 percent), improving SEO (38 percent) and increasing website traffic (33 percent).
However, social media is not as important to the critical buy-decision stage, such as increasing online sales (13 percent very effective).
Though not included in the results, social media can be used to reduce “buyers’ remorse.” Key social media attributes, such as engagement, transparency and information sharing, can help reduce customers second-guessing their buy decision.